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Still Waiting

July 6, 2010 - Matt Spielman

I was going to wait to write this until after the Sabres shook up their roster with a couple of big trades and some new blood in free agency. I've now realized that waiting for that would mean not writing anything for the duration of Darcy Regier's time in Buffalo.

Don't get me wrong, Jordan Leopold is a nice piece. I liked hearing the rumors at the trade deadline when some media outlets were saying Buffalo was in on Leopold and he added something to the Penguins down the stretch last season, but losing Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman only to replace them with Leopold does not make the Sabres a better team.

I may be the only Derek Roy fan left in Western New York, so I'm glad Regier did not move him at this point. As for Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly or even Andrej Sekera, I think there were/are moves to be made to better the team. If Regier is so enamored with Connolly, then one of the 29 other general managers in the NHL have to be as well. Stafford was a first-round pick and is still young while Sekera played very well at the Olympics and must have caught somebody's eye. I don't think the Sabres should be asking for much in return. Mid-level draft picks and the salary cap space to make other moves should be enough to tip the scale.

On the other hand, if the Sabres are looking for a return via the trade route, rumors say Boston's Marc Savard -- a legitimate No. 1 center -- is available, as is power-play point man Tomas Kaberle in Toronto. Nathan Horton was obviously available around this year's draft and Buffalo apparently did not put enough on the table to acquire him. Chicago was unloading a third of its roster to give itself enough cap space to re-sign its core and the Sabres did not get in on that garage sale. Other teams who have hopes of signing this year's prize free agent Ilya Kovalchuk are probably trying to make room in their salary structure. There are players to be had on the market and again Buffalo is not making itself a player.

Quality unrestricted free agents such as Kovalchuk are still available. Also at the top of that list according to hockeybuzz.com. are Alexandre Frolov and Paul Kariya. Both of them should be in the Sabres' price range while several former starting goaltenders must be in Buffalo's sights to back up Ryan Miller, especially with 22 back-to-back nights on this coming year's schedule.

Hopefully once Kovalchuk signs, more dominoes will begin to fall and other players will be available for the Sabres to start reshaping their roster.

If a star center takes Derek Roy in return to obtain, then pull the trigger but Roy as a No. 2 with Tyler Ennis and Paul Gaustad down the middle should make Buffalo a force up front this coming season. On the back end, the Sabres are going to need great contributions from their prospects like Mike Weber and Marc-Andre Gragnani to support Calder-winner Tyler Myers, Craig Rivet, Leopold and Steve Montador.

According to NHLSCAP.com, the Sabres have $11.057 million of cap space right now with Patrick Kaleta and Tim Kennedy due raises as restricted free agents. Connolly has a cap number of $4.5 and Stafford's is $1.9 so if both of those players are traded, Buffalo would have more than $17 million in cap room to sign a backup goaltender, two forwards and a defenseman. That is enough money to bring in some real star power and should make the Sabres a real force in the Eastern Conference.

 
 

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